Promising stem cell start-ups merge, add $11.5M

Two stem cell technology start-ups have agreed to merge, snagging an additional $11.5 million in fresh venture funds in the process.

Pierian and iZumi Bio will create iPierian, which will be helmed by iZumi CEO John Walker. Corey Goodman, a high-profile biotech entrepreneur who had briefly been in charge of Pfizer's biotech ops, will be chairman. And MPM Capital is blessing the deal with $10 million in new funds along with an additional $1.5 million contributed by FinTech Capital Partners.

The new company's business model will look a lot like iZumi's did a little more than a week ago, when we picked it for this year's Fierce 15--with millions in cash and some scientific heavyweights added to the combined operation. Harvard faculty members Dr. George Daley, Douglas Melton and Lee Rubin are the scientific founders of Pierian. The newly merged company will focus on commercializing stem cells as a better tool for drug discovery work in the near-term while advancing longer-term stem cell therapeutic programs.

Talks between the two companies actually got started before Walker joined the company earlier this year, the CEO tells FierceBiotech. Kleiner Perkins' Beth Seidenberg, who helped found the company, had been talking to Harvard's George Daley, director of Stem Cell Transplantation at the Children's Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, about getting the two companies to work together. And later MPM through Ashley Dombkowski got involved as a driving force in the negotiations.

"MPM saw that iZumi had begun to develop a real infrastructure," says Walker. This deal combines that infrastructure with Pierian's considerable scientific talent. "It made a great deal of sense."

- check out the press release
- read the report from the San Francisco Business Times